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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any tips or ideas on preventing swarming? Obviously the ideal situation would be to give them enough space, but this doesn't always work. I was thinking, if they pull swarm cells, despite plenty of space, and you can't/don't want to split, could you just off that queen and requeen to make them think she swarmed off? Seems too good to be true if it's really that simple. Anyone ever done it? I've tried before splitting the colony after they started pulling swarm cells, but I split them by removing the swarm cells, not the current queen. They swarms anyway. Seems they were stuck in that swarming mentality. But would requeening break that attitude?
 

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Hi tom I have found that if I put a shallow frame in a deep box and the bees pull comb off the bottom of the frame if They put honey in the pulled comb I just scrape it off. If they start making drones then there getting ready to swarm
 

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I was thinking, if they pull swarm cells, despite plenty of space, and you can't/don't want to split, could you just off that queen and requeen to make them think she swarmed off?
I'm not sure that will stop them from swarming. If you pinch the queen that will be no different than a primary swarm leaving with the original queen. When the new virgin queens emerge, there will be afterswarms with a high population of bees still there. If you pinch the old queen and requeen, the new queen may just take off with the primary swarm.

Once they get that far along in the swarming process the best you can do is remove the original queen with a split. Like you said, once they are in swarm mentality it's like a runaway train.
 

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Hi tom I have found that if I put a shallow frame in a deep box and the bees pull comb off the bottom of the frame if They put honey in the pulled comb I just scrape it off. If they start making drones then there getting ready to swarm
So that identifies a swarming mindset, but doesn't prevent it. It's interesting you say that though, since my biggest (and unfortunately meanest) hive is doing just that, with the drones. I spread out the brood frames two weeks ago to give them more room and try to slow them down. I checked back a few days ago to find almost all the new combs being drawn with drone comb. I find this rather frustrating, as I was hoping for worker brood comb. Anyway, I did take two splits off that hive, while searching for that queen, and still couldn't find her. I guess I could just let her swarm away but I imagine her daughters won't be much nicer.

I have had a third thing happen that you didn't mention, and that was the pulling of worker brood comb, which is what I prefer. But what does this imply, other than a spring buildup?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm not sure that will stop them from swarming. If you pinch the queen that will be no different than a primary swarm leaving with the original queen. When the new virgin queens emerge, there will be afterswarms with a high population of bees still there. If you pinch the old queen and requeen, the new queen may just take off with the primary swarm
I am aware of that risk. When I have a hive stuck in swarm mode, I go through and remove all but 2-3 of the swarm cells. If possible I move these extra cells into mating nucs for some insurance rather than mashing them. Obviously there is always the risk that your new queens will emerge and fight and the victor will fly off to mate and not return. But this can happen whether there are 10 swarm cells or 2. But the goal is that by removing excess cells you won't get the small after swarms.

So how about this. Split out the present queen. Allow her successors to hatch and mate, then mash the old queen and recombine the hives. This is of course in the extreme case that the beekeeper absolutely does not want the extra hives. I personally am open to having as many hives as possible and growing my apiary. But I have several friends who have purchased hives from me, and for now they wish to only have one hive. Other than driving to their place to take a split (which I'd gladly do) how do I advise they maintain a one hive program?
 

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Keep the bees making wax and drawing out comb. The more spare comb they have to fill the more likely swarming can be prevented.

... I spread out the brood frames two weeks ago to give them more room and try to slow them down. I checked back a few days ago to find almost all the new combs being drawn with drone comb. I find this rather frustrating, as I was hoping for worker brood comb...
You will find as they have more need for worker brood that they will actually tear down the drone cells and replace them with worker cells.

With my new frames I use a 1" strip of foundation as a comb guide. This reduces the amount of drone comb as it becomes a transition from worker cells to drone cells at the bottom. This way at least half the frame is typically worker size cells from the start.

The method I use is "Opening the sides of the Broodnest". It is essentially Checkerboarding new frames with drawn frames in new boxes. The drawn frames are taken from the outside of lower boxes. Here is more information:

http://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...-get-extra-drawn-frames&p=1065388#post1065388

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?293602-When-to-Open-the-Sides-of-the-Broodnest

Original Thread:
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?290784-Opening-the-Sides-of-the-Broodnest

If they are drawing comb quickly, you may need to check more often that every 2 weeks.
 

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So how about this. Split out the present queen. Allow her successors to hatch and mate, then mash the old queen and recombine the hives. This is of course in the extreme case that the beekeeper absolutely does not want the extra hives.
I don't know why that wouldn't work. A temporary split, removing the original queen and half the bees. After the swarm period has passed one of the queens could be dispatched and the hives re-combined for the balance of the flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Keep the bees making wax and drawing out comb. The more spare comb they have to fill the more likely swarming can be prevented.



You will find as they have more need for worker brood that they will actually tear down the drone cells and replace them with worker cells.

With my new frames I use a 1" strip of foundation as a comb guide. This reduces the amount of drone comb as it becomes a transition from worker cells to drone cells at the bottom. This way at least half the frame is typically worker size cells from the start.

The method I use is "Opening the sides of the Broodnest". It is essentially Checkerboarding new frames with drawn frames in new boxes. The drawn frames are taken from the outside of lower boxes. Here is more information:

http://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...-get-extra-drawn-frames&p=1065388#post1065388

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?293602-When-to-Open-the-Sides-of-the-Broodnest

Original Thread:
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?290784-Opening-the-Sides-of-the-Broodnest

If they are drawing comb quickly, you may need to check more often that every 2 weeks.
Thanks Matt, that's exactly what I do, almost to a T. I checkerboarded the frames, taking all my single deeps to double deeps, and I always use a strip of beeswax foundation as a starter strip in the brood nest. I like to take a deep frame sheet of beeswax foundation and cut it long ways into about 3 strips, so they are 2-3" instead of just 1". And it worked in most hives. It was just the one big hive that pulled it all for worker brood. Basically they followed the worker cell size pattern on the foundation, and as soon as they were off of that they switched it to drone brood.

And tearing down drone comb for worker cells, I'd never heard of that, that's interesting.

So my whole goal this year is to not lose any swarms. Trying to keep up with ~20 hives in three apiaries plus a seemingly swarming family of my own (we just had our second kid, now 6 weeks old) I'm pretty much worn out. But I want to at least say this year I tried to prevent it, and didn't let them get away easy like last spring!
 

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Some people swap hive bodies constantly throughout the spring. This was George Imirie's favorite method, which I never do.
http://bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#stopswitching

Some people destroty the swarm cells, which I never do and recommend no one ever do.
http://bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#stopcuttingswarmcells
http://bushfarms.com/beesfallacies.htm#queencells

Keeping the brood nest open helps a lot.
http://bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm#opening

Making splits is helpful. You can always combine later. Besides, it's always better to have too many hives going into winter than too few...
http://bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm#swarmcontrol

Then there is Walt's method:
http://bushfarms.com/beesexperiment.htm#checkerboarding

Some general info on swarm control:
http://bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm

And letting the queen have as much room as she needs is helpful:
http://bushfarms.com/beesulbn.htm
 

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Pretty much all the methods you are hearing about work to some degree but the most important thing to remember with any swarm prevention method is that you need to do it early enough.

Here in south Louisiana I usually start doing my swarm preventing in late February around Maple bloom which is a couple weeks away from the first big flow which is blackberry. This year I am a little behind due to the colder Weather. I would think Houston should be about the same time frame.

And also remember that preventing swarming is a big deference down south compared to up north. Up north, they manipulate hives to get them ready for a strong and somewhat short flow. Down south we have a very long and moderate flow leading up to our biggest flow which is Chinese Tallow. Im sure y'all got Tallow in Houston? So swarm prevention is a big problem in the south. Bottom line is start by giving them room early and never let them run out of room throughout our long flow.

Oh and a few will still swarm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks to all for your input. I know swarming isn't wholly preventable, as I've split and requeening before to try and stop a swarming movement and they still swarmed. I just want to say I gave it a good try this spring!

Maples started coming in here mid January. We are well into the oaks now and pine is starting to bloom. Redbuds and dogwoods are full bloom, cal though I'm nor sure if they have much for bees. Blackberries are starting to leaf out as well as grapes pushing out. Spring is so much more exciting as a beekeeper!
 
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